about the exhibition
New Works 03.3
November 13, 2003–January 25, 2004about the artist
Although based in London, England, Jeremy Deller is a constant traveler. Defying attempts at easy categorization, his work combines performance, video, sound, ephemera, and photographs into projects that excavate the history of a particular region. Deller’s process involves physically exploring a place and talking to the people who live there. The results of his research are woven into multi-media pieces that use people and their stories to depict the fabric of their land.
Deller’s last several projects have been investigations of the United States. After the Gold Rush (2002), created during a residency in California, is a tour book turned treasure hunt. The book and CD that comprise the project lead the reader/listener on a linguistic, sonic, and pictorial journey through northern California. Like the folk singers he admires, in this work, Deller spins a tale of the Golden State by celebrating its unknowns.
For This is us (2003), Deller explored upstate New York—an area, like San Francisco, with strong ties to folk culture. Working only with sound, Deller created an audio portrait of the area. He produced a CD and orchestrated a concert, bringing together various contributors to the region's aural landscape—from a punk band and cheerleaders to birds of prey and a bluegrass group. In this and other works Deller unites diverse elements from an area, with the aim of offering a rich, albeit unconventional, version of place.
Jeremy Deller was born in 1966 in London, England. He studied art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London, England, and later at University of Sussex, Brighton, England. Deller is the co-initiator of the Folk Archive, online at www.folkarchive.co.uk. Individual projects include This is us, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY (2003); After the Gold Rush, Capp Street Projects, San Francisco, CA (2002); The Battle of Orgreave (2001); and Karl Marx at Christmas, Fig. 1, London, England (2000). He has been included in group exhibitions at the 50th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2003) the Dundee Contemporary Arts, Scotland (2003); and the Tate Modern, London, England (2001).
about the project
For his residency at ArtPace Jeremy Deller has tackled Texas—not just the mythical American state described in newspapers, but also the reality he discovered while living in San Antonio for two months. With ArtPace as home base, Deller has visited bat caves and other local haunts, traveled to the now-famed town of Crawford, and spoken with a survivor of the Branch Davidian disaster in Waco. Deller’s Memory Bucket mixes and re-mixes the Texas paraphernalia, live interviews, sound samples and photographs he has gathered along the way. The resulting installation features a video, photographic prints, souvenir t-shirts, beer koozies, and bumper stickers that allude to the social, political, and natural elements he has uncovered.
Upon visiting Texas Deller was taken with the physical proximity of two of its most infamous spots. Put on the map by the presidential Bush family, Crawford is a small ranching town that represents Texas, if not America, at its most patriotic. Yet just minutes away lies another site of international repute—Waco. Nearby Mount Carmel is the location of the Branch Davidian compound, the site of a widely critiqued 1993 government siege which resulted in a deadly fire.
Memory Bucket’s main component is a video. The work features interviews with people from Crawford and Waco interspersed with footage that folds in other aspects of Texas. The garbled speech of an Alamo representative tells the “heroic story of the last stand” and segues from one town to another. Anti-Bush protestors in San Antonio are followed by sequences of the president’s hometown.
In the closing moments of the video, Deller shifts emphasis from humankind to the natural world, from the individuals who make up the state to the creatures who depend on its unique topography. Perhaps this is a telling conclusion to Memory Bucket—a project that, by chance and choice, brings people together to tell a story about Texas.